Vygotsky. The Historical Meaning of The Crisis in Psychology: A Methodological Investigation

13: Two Psychologies



However obvious the historical and methodological dogma about the growing gap between the two psychologies as the formula for the dynamics of the crisis may seem after our analysis, it is disputed by many. In itself this is of no concern to us. The tendencies we found seem to us to express the truth, because they exist objectively and do not depend on the views of some author. On the contrary, they themselves determine these views insofar as they become psychological views and are involved in the process of the science’s development.

That is why we should not be surprised to find that different views exist on this account. From the very beginning we have not set ourselves the task to investigate views, but what these views are aimed at. It is this that distinguishes a critical investigation of the views of some author from the methodological analysis of the problem itself. But we must nevertheless pay attention to one thing: we are not entirely indifferent as to views; we must be able to explain them, to lay bare their objective, their inner logic. To put it more simply, we must be able to present each struggle between views as a complex expression of the struggle between the two psychologies. On the whole, this is a critical task which should be based on the present analysis and it should show for the most important psychological currents what the dogma found by us can yield toward understanding them. But to show its possibility, to establish the fundamental course of the analysis, forms part of our present task.

This can be done most easily by analysing those systems which openly side with one or the other tendency or even merge them. But it is much more difficult and therefore more attractive to demonstrate it for those systems which in principle place themselves outside the struggle, outside these two tendencies, which seek a way out in a third tendency and seemingly reject our dogma about the existence of only two paths for psychology. They say there is a third way: the two struggling tendencies may be merged, or one of them may be subjected to the other, or both may be totally removed and a new one created, or both may be subjected to a third one, etc. For the confirmation of our dogma it is in principle extremely important to show where this third way leads, as the dogma stands or falls with it.

Following the method we adopted we will examine how both objective tendencies operate in the conceptual systems of the adherents of a third way. Are they bridled or do they remain masters of the situation? In short, who is leading, the horse or the horseman?

First of all, we will clearly distinguish between conceptions and tendencies. A conception may identify itself with a certain tendency and nevertheless not coincide with it. Thus, behaviourism is right when it asserts that a scientific psychology is only possible as a natural science. This does not mean, however, that it has realised psychology as a natural science, that it has not compromised this idea. For each conception the tendency is a task and not something given. To realize what the task is does not yet imply the ability to solve it. Different conceptions may exist on the basis of one tendency, and in one conception both tendencies may be represented to different degrees.

With this precise demarcation in mind we may proceed to the systems which advocate a third way. Very many of them exist. However, the majority belong either to blind men who unconsciously mix the two ways up, or to deliberate eclectics who run from path to path. Let us pass them by; we are interested in principles, not in their distortions. There are three of these fundamentally pure systems: Gestalt theory, personalism, and Marxist psychology. Let us examine them from the point of view that fits our goal. All three schools share the conviction that psychology as a science is neither possible on the basis of empirical psychology, nor on the basis of behaviourism and that there is a third way which stands above these two ways and which allows us to realize a scientific psychology which does not reject either of the two approaches but unites them into a single whole. Each system solves this task in its own way and each has its own fate, but together they exhaust all logical possibilities of a third way, as if it were a methodological experiment especially designed for this purpose.

Gestalt theory solves this problem by introducing the basic concept of structure (Gestalt), which combines both the functional and the descriptive side of behaviour, i.e., it is a psychophysical concept. To combine both aspects in the subject matter of one science is only possible if one finds something fundamental which both have in common and makes this common factor the subject of study. For if we accept mind and body as two different things which are separated by an abyss and do not coincide in a single aspect, then, naturally, a single science about these two absolutely distinct things will be impossible. This is the crux of the whole methodology of the new theory. The Gestalt principle is equally applicable to the whole of nature. It is not only a property of the mind; the principle has a psychophysical character. It is applicable to physiology, physics and in general to all real sciences. Mind is only part of behaviour, conscious processes are part-processes of larger wholes [Koffka, 1924]. Wertheimer (1925) is even clearer about this. The formula of the whole Gestalt theory can be reduced to the following: what takes place in a part of some whole is determined by the internal structural laws of this whole. “This is Gestalt theory, no more and no less.” The psychologist Kohler [1920] showed that in principle the same processes take place in physics. Methodologically this is a striking fact and for Gestalt theory it is a decisive argument. The investigative principle is identical for the mental, organic, and non-organic. This means that psychology is connected with the natural sciences, that psychological investigation is possible on the basis of physical principles. Gestalt theory does not view the mental and physical as absolutely heterogenous things which are combined in a meaningless way, but instead asserts their connection. They are parts of one whole. Only persons belonging to recent European culture can divide the mental and the physical as we do. A person is dancing. Do we really have a sum-total of muscular movements on the one hand and joy and inspiration on the other? The two sides are structurally similar. Consciousness brings nothing fundamentally new which would require other investigative methods. Where is the boundary between materialism and idealism? There are psychological theories and even many textbooks which, despite the fact that they only talk about the elements of consciousness, are more devoid of mind and sense and are more torpid and materialistic than a growing tree.

What does all this mean? Only that Gestalt theory realises a materialistic psychology insofar as it fundamentally and methodologically consistently lays down its system. This is seemingly in contradiction with Gestalt theory’s doctrine about phenomenal reactions, about introspection, but only seemingly, because for these psychologists the mind is the phenomenal part of behaviour, i.e., in principle they choose one of the two ways and not a third one.

Another question is whether this theory advances its view consistently, whether it does not run against contradictions in its conceptions, whether the means to realize this third way have been chosen correctly. But this does not interest us here, only the methodological system of principles. And we can add to this that everything in the conceptions of Gestalt theory which does not coincide with this tendency is a manifestation of the other tendency. When the mind is described in the same concepts as physics we have the way of natural scientific psychology.

It is easy to show that Stern [1919] in his theory of personalism follows the opposite path of development. In his wish to avoid the two ways and to defend a third, he in reality also defends only one of the two ways. the way of idealistic psychology. He proceeds from the assumption that we do not have a psychology, but many psychologies. In order to preserve the subject of psychology in the perspective of both tendencies he introduces the concept of psychophysically neutral acts and functions and ends up with the following hypothesis: the mental and the physical go through identical levels of development. The division is secondary, it arises from the fact that the personality may appear before itself and before others. The basic fact is the existence of the psychophysically neutral person and his psychophysically neutral acts. Thus, unity is reached by the introduction of the concept of the psychophysically neutral act.

Let us consider what is in reality hidden behind this formula. It turns out that Stern follows a road opposite to the one known to us from Gestalt theory. For him the organism and even anorganic systems are also psychophysical neutral persons. Plants, the solar system, and man must in principle be understood identically, by extending the teleological principle to the non-mental world. We are faced with a teleological psychology. Once again a third way proved to be one of the two well-known ways. Once again we are talking about personalism’s methodology; about the question what a psychology created according to these principles would look like. What it is in reality is another question. In reality, Stern is forced, like Munsterberg, to be an adherent of causal psychology in differential psychology. In reality, he provides a materialist conception of consciousness, i.e., within his system that same struggle is still going on which is well known to us and which he, unsuccessfully, wished to overcome.

The third system which attempts to defend a third way is the system of Marxist psychology which is developing before our eyes. It is difficult to analyse, because it does not yet have its own methodology and attempts to find it ready-made in the haphazard psychological statements of the founders of Marxism, not to mention the fact that to find a ready-made formula of the mind in the writings of others would mean to demand “science before science itself.” It must be remarked that the heterogeneity of the material, its fragmentary nature, the change of meaning of phrases taken out of context and the polemical character of the majority of the pronouncements – correct in their contradiction of a false idea, but empty and general as a positive definition of the task – do not allow us to expect of this work anything more than a pile of more or less accidental citations and their Talmudic interpretation. But citations, even when they have been well ordered, never yield systems.

Another formal shortcoming of such work is the mixing up of two goals in these investigations. For it is one thing to examine the Marxist doctrine from the historical-philosophical point of view and quite another one to investigate the problems themselves which these thinkers stated. If they are combined, a double disadvantage results: some particular author is used to solve the problem, the problem is stated only on a scale and in a context which fits this author, who is dealing with it in passing and for quite another reason. The distorted statement of the question deals with its accidental aspects, does not touch on its core, does not develop it in a way which the essence of the question requires.

The fear of verbal contradiction leads to a confusion of epistemological and methodological viewpoints, etc.

But neither can the second goal – the study of the author – be attained via this road, because the author is willy-nilly being modernised, is drawn into the present debate, and, most importantly, is grossly distorted by arbitrarily combining into a system citations found in different places. We might put it as follows: they are looking, firstly, in the wrong place; secondly, for the wrong thing; thirdly, in the wrong manner.

In the wrong place, because neither in Plekhanov nor in any of the other Marxists can one find what one is looking for, for not only do they not have an accomplished methodology of psychology, they do not even have the beginnings of one. For them this problem never arose, and their utterances concerning this theme have first of all a non-psychological character. They do not even have an epistemological theory about the way to know the mental. As if it were really such a simple matter to create so much as a hypothesis about the psychophysical relation! Plekhanov would have inscribed his name in the history of philosophy next to that of Spinoza had he himself created some psychophysical theory. He could not do that, because he himself never dealt with psychophysiology and science could not yet give occasion to the construction of such a hypothesis.

Behind Spinoza’s hypothesis was the whole of Galileo’s physics. Translated into philosophical language, it expressed the whole fundamentally generalised experience of physics which first discovered the unity and regularity of the world. And what in psychology might have engendered such a theory? Plekhanov and others were always interested in their local goals: polemics, explanation, in general, a goal tied to a specific context, not an independent, generalised idea elevated to the level of a theory.

For the wrong thing, because what is needed is a methodological system of principles by means of which the investigation can be started and what they are looking for is a fundamental answer, the still vague scientific end point of many years of joint research. If we already had the answer, there would be no need to build a Marxist psychology. The external criterion for the formula we seek must be its methodological suitability. Instead, they are looking for a pompous ontological formula which is as empty and cautious as possible and avoids any solution. What we need is a formula which would serve us in research. What they are searching for is a formula which we must serve, which we must prove. As a result they stumble upon formulas – such as negative concepts, etc. – which paralyse the investigation. They do not show how we can realize a science proceeding from these accidental formulas.

In the wrong manner, because their thinking is fettered by authoritarian principles. They study not methods but dogmas. They do not come any further than stating that two formulas are logically equivalent. They do not approach the matter in a critical, free and investigative way.

But all these three flaws follow from a common cause: a misunderstanding of the historical task of psychology and the meaning of the crisis. The next section is specially dedicated to this matter. Here I state everything necessary to make the boundary between conceptions and a system clearer, to relieve the system from the responsibility for the sins of the conceptions. We will call it a falsely understood system. We are all the more justified in doing this as this understanding itself did not realize where it would lead to.

The new system lays the concept of reaction – as distinct from the reflex and the mental phenomenon – at the basis of the third way in psychology. The integral act of the reaction includes both the subjective and the objective aspect. However, in contrast with Gestalt theory and Stern, the new theory refrains from methodological assumptions which unite both parts of the reaction into one concept. Neither viewing fundamentally the same structures in the mind as in physics, nor finding goals, entelechy and personality in anorganic nature, e.g., neither the way of Gestalt theory, nor the way of Stern, lead to the goal.

Following Plekhanov, the new theory accepts the doctrine of psychophysical parallelism and the complete irreducibility of the mental to the physical. Such a reduction it regards as crude, vulgar materialism. But how can there be one science about two categories of being which are fundamentally, qualitatively heterogeneous and irreducible to each other? How can they merge into the integral act of the reaction? We have two answers to these questions. Kornilov, by seeing a functional relation between them, immediately destroys any unity: it is two different things that can stand in a functional relation to each other. Psychology cannot be studied with the concepts of reaction, for within the reaction we find two functionally independent elements which cannot be unified. This is not solving the psychophysical problem, but moving it into each element. Therefore it makes any research impossible, just as it has impeded psychology as a whole. At the time it was the relation of the whole area of the mind to the whole area of physiology which was unclear. Now the same insolubility is entangled in each separate reaction. What does this solution of the problem offer, methodologically speaking? Instead of solving it problematically (hypothetically) at the start of the investigation one must solve it experimentally, empirically in each separate case. But this is impossible. And how can there be one science with two fundamentally different methods of knowledge acquisition (not research methods: Kornilov regards introspection as the only adequate way to know the mind and not just as a technical device)? It is clear that methodologically the integral nature of the reaction remains a pia desiderata and in reality such a concept leads to two sciences with two methods which study two different aspects of reality.

Frankfurt (1926) provides a different answer. Following Plekhanov, he becomes entangled in a hopeless and insoluble contradiction. He wishes to prove the material nature of the non-material mind and to link two ways of science for psychology which cannot be linked. The outline of his argumentation is as follows: the idealists view matter as another form of existence of the mind; the mechanistic materialists view the mind as another form of being of matter. The dialectical materialist preserves both parts of the antinomy. For him the mind is (1) a special property amidst many other properties which is irreducible to movement; (2) an internal state of moving matter; (3) the subjective side of a material process. The contradictory nature and the heterogeneity of these formulas will be revealed in the systematic exposition of the concepts of psychology. There I hope to show how the juxtaposition of ideas plucked from absolutely different contexts distorts their meaning. Here we deal exclusively with the methodological aspect of the question: can there be one science about two fundamentally different kinds of being? They have nothing in common, cannot be unified. But perhaps there is an unequivocal link between them that allows us to combine them? No. Plekhanov (cf. Frankfurt, 1926) clearly says that Marxism does not accept “the possibility of explaining or describing one kind of phenomenon by means of ideas or concepts ‘developed’ to explain or describe another kind.” Frankfurt (ibid.) says that “Mind is a special property which we can describe or explain by means of special concepts or ideas.” Once again the same – different concepts. But this means that there are two sciences, one about behaviour as a unique form of human movement, the other about the mind as non-movement. Frankfurt also talks about physiology in a narrow and a broad sense – including the mind. But will this be physiology? Is our wish sufficient to make a science appear according to our fiat? Let them show us so much as a single example of one science about two different kinds of being which are being explained and described by means of different concepts, or let them show us the possibility of such a science.

There are two points in this argumentation which categorically show that such a science is impossible.

1. Mind is a special quality or property of matter, but a quality is not part of a thing, but a special capacity. But matter has many qualities, mind is just one of them. Plekhanov compares the relation between mind and movement with the relations between the properties of growth and combustibility of wood, with the hardness and shine of ice. But why, then, are there only two parts in the antinomy? There should be as many as there are qualities, i.e., many, infinitely many. Obviously, notwithstanding Chernychevsky, all qualities have something in common. There is a general concept under which all the qualities of matter can be subsumed: both the shine of ice and its hardness, both the fact that wood is easy to burn and the way it grows. If not, there would be as many sciences as there are qualities: one science about the shine of ice, another about its hardness. What Chernychevsky says is simply absurd as a methodological principle. After all, also within the mind we find different qualities: pain resembles lust in the same way as shine resembles hardness – once again a special property.

The whole matter is that Plekhanov is operating with a general concept of the mind under which a multitude of the most heterogeneous qualities are subsumed, and that movement, under which all other qualities are subsumed, is also such a general concept. Obviously, mind stands in principle in another relation to movement than qualities do to each other: both shine and hardness are in the end movement; both pain and lust are in the end mind. Mind is not one of many properties, but one of two. But this means that in the end there are two principles and not one or many. Methodologically this means that the dualism of the science is completely preserved. This becomes particularly clear from the second point.

2. The mental does not influence the physical, according to Plekhanov (1922). Frankfurt (1926) clarifies that it influences itself mediately, via physiology, it exerts its influence in a peculiar way. If we combine two right-angled triangles, their forms will combine into a new form – a square. The forms themselves do not exert influence “as a second, ‘formal’ aspect of the combination of our material triangles.” We observe that this is an exact statement of the famous Schattentheorie, the theory of shadows: two men shake hands and their shadows do the same. According to Frankfurt the shadows “influence” each other via the body.

But this is not the methodological problem. Does the author understand that, for a materialist, he arrived at a monstrous formulation of the nature of our science? Really, what sort of science about shadows, forms and mirror reflections is this?

The author half understands what he arrived at, but does not see what it implies. Is a natural science about forms as such really possible, a science which uses induction, the concept of causality? It is only in geometry that we study abstract forms. The final word has been said: psychology is possible as geometry. But exactly this is the highest expression of Husserl’s eidetic psychology. Dilthey’s descriptive psychology as mathematics of the spirit is like that and so are Chelpanov’s phenomenology, Stout’s, Meinong’s, and Schmidt-Kovazhik’s analytic psychology. What unites them all with Frankfurt is the whole fundamental structure. They are using the same analogy.

1. The mind must be studied as geometrical forms, outside causality. Two triangles do not engender a square, the circle knows nothing of the pyramid. No relation of the real world may be transferred to the ideal world of forms and mental essences: they can only be described, analysed, classified, but not explained. Dilthey [1894] regards it as the main property of the mind that its parts are not linked by the law of causality:

Representations contain no sufficient ground for going over into feelings; one could imagine a purely representational creature who would be, in the midst of a battle’s tumult, an unconcerned spectator indifferent about his own destruction. Feelings contain no sufficient ground for being transformed into volitional processes. One could imagine the same creature whose awareness of the surrounding combat would be accompanied by feelings of fear and terror, yet without movements of defence resulting from these feelings.

Precisely because these concepts are a-deterministic, non-causal and non-spatial precisely because they have been formed like geometrical abstractions, Pavlov rejects their suitability for science: they are incompatible with the material construction of the brain. Following Pavlov, we say that, precisely because they are geometrical, they are not fit for real science.

But how can there be a science which combines the geometrical method with the scientific-inductive one? Dilthey [ibid.] understood perfectly well that materialism and explanatory psychology presuppose each other. Materialism is “in all its nuances, an explanatory psychology. Every theory which depends on the system of physical processes and merely incorporates mental facts into that system, is a materialism.” Exactly the wish to defend the independence of the mind and all the sciences of the mind, the fear of transferring to this world the causality and necessity which reign in nature, leads to the fear of explanatory psychology. “No explanatory psychology . . . is capable of serving as the basis of the human studies” [ibid.]. This signifies that the sciences of the mind must not be studied materialistically. Oh, if Frankfurt only understood what it really implies to demand a psychology as geometry! To accept a special link – “efficacy” – instead of the physical causality of the mind, to reject explanatory psychology, means no more and no less than to reject the concept of regularity in the whole field of the mind. This is what the debate is about. The Russian idealists understand this perfectly well. For them Dilthey’s thesis about psychology is a thesis that contrasts with the mechanistic conception of the historical process.

2. The second feature of the psychology at which Frankfurt arrived resides in its method, in the nature of the knowledge of this science. If the mind cannot be linked with natural processes, if it is non-causal, then it cannot be studied inductively, by observing real facts and generalising them. It must be studied by the method of speculation, through the direct contemplation of the truth in these Platonic ideas or mental essences. There is no place for induction in geometry; what has been proved for one triangle, has been proved for all of them. It does not study real triangles, but ideal abstractions – the different properties which have been abstracted from things are carried to the extreme and studied in their ideally pure form. For Husserl, phenomenology stands to psychology as mathematics to natural science. But according to Frankfurt it would be impossible to realize geometry and psychology as natural sciences. Their method is different. Induction is based on the repeated observation of facts and their empirically-based generalisation. The analytical (phenomenological) method is based on a single immediate contemplation of the truth. This deserves reflection. We must know exactly with which science we want to break all ties. This theory about induction and analysis involves an essential misunderstanding which we must lay bare.

Analysis is applied entirely systematically in both causal psychology and the natural sciences. And there we often deduce a general regularity from a single observation. The domination of induction and mathematical elaboration and the underdevelopment of analysis substantially damaged the case of Wundt and experimental psychology as a whole.

What is the difference between one analysis and the other, or, not to make a mistake, between the analytical method and the phenomenological one? When we know this we can add to our map the last characteristic distinguishing the two psychologies.

The method of analysis in the natural sciences and in causal psychology consists of the study of a single phenomenon, a typical representative of a whole series, and the deduction of a proposition about the whole series on the basis of that phenomenon. Chelpanov (1917) clarifies this idea by giving the example of the study of the properties of different gases. Thus, we assert something about the properties of all gases after we conducted an experiment with only one type of gas. When we arrive at such a conclusion we assume that the gas we experimented upon has the same properties as all other gases. According to Chelpanov, in such an inference the inductive and the analytical method are simultaneously present.

Is this really true, i.e., is it really possible to merge the geometrical method with the natural scientific one, or do we have here a simple mixture of terms, with Chelpanov using the word analysis in two entirely distinct senses? The question is too important to ignore. We must not only distinguish the two psychologies, we must set apart their methods as deeply and as far as possible as they cannot have methods in common. Apart from the fact that we are interested in that part of the method which after the separation falls to the lot of descriptive psychology, because we want to know it exactly – apart from all this, we do not wish to concede one bit of the territory that belongs to us in the process of division. As we will see below, the analytical method is in principle too important for the development of the whole of social psychology, to render it without striking a blow.

When our Marxists explain the Hegelian principle in Marxist methodology they rightly claim that each thing can be examined as a microcosm, as a universal measure in which the whole big world is reflected. On this basis they say that to study one single thing, one subject, one phenomenon until the end, exhaustively, means to know the world in all its connections. In this sense it can be said that each person is to some degree a measure of the society, or rather class, to which he belongs, for the whole totality of social relationships is reflected in him.

From this alone we see that knowledge gained on the path from the special to the general is the key to all social psychology. We must reconquer the right for psychology to examine what is special, the individual as a social microcosm, as a type, as an expression or measure of the society. But about this we must only speak when we are face to face with causal psychology. Here we must exhaust the theme of the division.

What is undoubtedly correct in Chelpanov’s example is that analysis in physics does not contradict induction, since it is precisely due to analysis that a single observation can lead to a general conclusion. Indeed, what justifies us in extending our conclusion about one gas to all others? Obviously, it is only because we elaborated the concept of gas per se through previous inductive observations and established the extension and content of this concept. Further, because we study the given particular gas not as such, but from a special viewpoint. We study the general properties of a gas realised in it. It is exactly this possibility, i.e., this viewpoint that in the particular, the special can be separated from the general, which we owe to analysis.

Thus, analysis is in principle not opposed to induction, but related to it. It is its highest form which contradicts its essence (repetition). It rests on induction and guides it. It states the question. It lies at the basis of each experiment. Each experiment is an analysis in action, as each analysis is an experiment in thought. That is why it would be correct to call it an experimental method. Indeed, when I am experimenting, I am studying A, B, C . . ., i.e., a number of concrete phenomena, and I assign the conclusions to different groups: to all people, to school-aged children, to activity, etc. The analysis suggests to what extent the conclusions may be generalised, i.e., it distinguishes in A, B, C . . . the characteristics that a given group has in common. But even more: in the experiment I always observe just one feature of a phenomenon, and this is again the result of analysis.

Let us now turn to the inductive method in order to clarify the analysis. Let us examine a number of applications of this method.

Pavlov is studying the activity of the salivary gland in dogs. What gives him the right to call his experiments the study of the higher nervous activity of animals? Perhaps, he should have verified his experiments on horses, crows, etc., on all, or at least the majority of animals, in order to have the right to draw these conclusions? Or, perhaps, he should have called his experiments “a study of salivation in dogs”? But it is precisely the salivation of dogs per se which Pavlov did not study and his experiments have not for one bit increased our knowledge of dogs as such and of salivation as such. In the dogs he did not study the dog, but an animal in general, and in salivation a reflex in general, i.e., in this animal and in this phenomenon he distinguished what they have in common with all homogeneous phenomena. That is why his conclusions do not just concern all animals, but the whole of biology as well. The established fact that Pavlov’s dogs salivated to signals given by Pavlov immediately became a general biological principle – the principle of the transformation of inherited experience into personal experience. This proved possible because Pavlov maximally abstracted the phenomenon he studied from the specific conditions of the particular phenomenon. He brilliantly perceived the general in the particular.

What did the extension of his conclusions rest upon? Naturally, on the following: we extend our conclusions to something which has to do with the same elements and we rely upon similarities established in advance (the class of hereditary reflexes in all animals, the nervous system, etc.). Pavlov discovered a general biological law while studying dogs. But in the dog he studied what forms the basis of any animal.

This is the methodological path of any explanatory principle. In essence, Pavlov did not extend his conclusions, and the degree of their extension was determined in advance. It was implied in the very statement of the problem. The same is true for Ukhtomsky. He studied several preparations of frogs. If he had generalised his conclusions to all frogs this would have been induction. But he talks about the dominant as a principle of psychology applicable to the heroes of “War and Peace,” and this he owes to analysis. Sherrington studied the scratching and flexive reflexes of the hind leg in many cats and dogs, but he established the principle of the struggle for the motor path which lies at the basis of the personality. But neither Ukhtomsky nor Sherrington added anything to the study of frogs or cats as such.

It is, of course, a very special task to find the precise factual boundaries of a general principle in practice and the degree to which it can be applied to different species of the given genus. Perhaps the conditional reflex has its highest boundary in the behaviour of the human infant and its lowest in invertebrates and is found in absolutely different forms beyond these extremes. Within these limits it is more applicable to the dog than to a chicken and to what extent it is applicable to each of them can be exactly ascertained. But all this is already induction, the study of the specifically particular in relation to a principle and on the basis of analysis. There is no end to this process. We can study the application of a principle to different breeds, ages, sexes of the dog; further, to an individual dog, still further, to a particular day or hour of the dog’s life, etc. The same is true of the dominant and the general motor path.

I have tried to introduce such a method into conscious psychology and to deduce the laws of the psychology of art on the basis of the analysis of one fable, one short story, and one tragedy. In doing so I proceeded from the idea that the well-developed forms of art provide the key to the underdeveloped ones, just as the anatomy of man provides the key to the anatomy of the ape. I assumed that Shakespeare’s tragedy explains the enigmas of primitive art and not the other way around. Further, I talk about all art and do not verify my conclusions on music, painting, etc. What is even more: I do not verify them on all or the majority of the types of literature. I take one short story, one tragedy. Why am I entitled to do so? I have not studied the fable, the tragedy, and still less a given fable or a given tragedy. I have studied in them what makes up the basis of all art – the nature and mechanism of the aesthetic reaction. I relied upon the general elements of form and material which are inherent in any art. For the analysis I selected the most difficult fables, short stories and tragedies, precisely those in which the general laws are particularly evident. I selected the monsters among the tragedies etc. The analysis presupposes that one abstracts from the concrete characteristics of the fable as such, as a specific genre, and concentrates the forces upon the essence of the aesthetic reaction. That is why I say nothing about the fable as such. And the subtitle “An analysis of the aesthetic reaction” itself indicates that the goal of the investigation is not a systematic exposition of a psychological theory of art in its entire volume and width of content (all types of art, all problems, etc.) and not even the inductive investigation of a specific number of facts, but precisely the analysis of the processes in their essence.

The objective-analytical method, therefore, is similar to the experiment. Its meaning is broader than its field of observation. Naturally, the principle of art as well is dealing with a reaction which in reality never manifested itself in a pure form, but always with its “coefficient of specification.”

To find the factual boundaries, levels and forms of the applicability of a principle is a matter of factual research. Let history show which feelings in which eras, via which forms have been expressed in art. My task was to show how this proceeds in general. And this is the common methodological position of contemporary art theory: it studies the essence of a reaction knowing that it will never manifest itself in exactly that form. But the type, norm or limit will always be part of the concrete reaction and determine its specific character. Thus, a purely aesthetic reaction never occurs in art. In reality it will be combined with the most complex and diverse forms of ideology (morals, politics, etc.). Many even think that the aesthetic aspects are no more essential in art than coquetry in the reproduction of the species. It is a facade, Vorlust, a lure, and the meaning of the act lies in something else (Freud and his school). Others assume that historically and psychologically art and aesthetics are two intersecting circles which have a common and a separate surface (Utitz) This is all true, but it does not change the veracity of a principle, because it is abstracted from all this. It only says that the aesthetical reaction is like this. It is another matter to find the boundaries and sense of the aesthetic reaction itself within art.

Abstraction and analysis does all this. The similarity with the experiment resides in the fact that here, too, we have an artificial combination of phenomena in which the action of a specific law must manifest itself in the purest form. It is like a snare for nature, an analysis in action. In analysis we create a similar artificial combination of phenomena, but then through abstraction in thought. This is particularly clear in its application to art constructions. They are not aimed at scientific, but at practical goals and rely upon the action of some specific psychological or physical law. Examples are a machine, an anecdote, lyrics, mnemonics, a military command. Here we have a practical experiment. The analysis of such cases is an experiment with finished phenomena. Its meaning comes close to that of pathology – this experiment arranged by nature itself – to its own analysis. The only difference is that disease causes the loss or demarcation of superfluous traits, whereas we here have the presence of necessary traits, a selection of them – but the result is the same.

Each lyrical poem is such an experiment. The task of the analysis is to reveal the law that forms the basis of nature’s experiment. But also when the analysis does not deal with a machine, i.e., a practical experiment, but with any phenomenon, it is in principle similar to the experiment. It would be possible to prove how infinitely much our equipment complicates and refines our research, how much more intelligent, stronger and more perspicuous it makes us. Analysis does the same.

It may seem that analysis, like experiment, distorts reality by creating artificial conditions for observation. Hence the demand that the experiment should be realistic and natural. If this idea goes further than a technical demand – not to scare off what we are searching for – it leads to absurdity. The strength of analysis is in abstraction, just as the strength of experiment is in its artificiality. Pavlov’s experiments are the best specimen: for the dogs it is a natural experiment – they are fed etc.; for the scientist it is the summit of artificiality – salivation takes place when a specific area is scratched, which is an unnatural combination. Likewise, we need destruction in the analysis of a machine, mental or real damage to the mechanism, and in the [analysis of the] aesthetic form we need deformation.

If we remember what was said above about the indirect method, then it is easy to observe that analysis and experiment presuppose indirect study. From the analysis of the stimuli we infer the mechanism of the reaction, from the command, the movements of the soldiers, and from the form of the fable the reactions to it.

Marx [1867] says essentially the same when he compares abstraction with a microscope and chemical reactions in the natural sciences. The whole of Das Kapital is written according to this method. Marx analyses the “cell” of bourgeois society – the form of the commodity value – and shows that a mature body can be more easily studied than a cell. He discerns the structure of the whole social order and all economical formations in this cell. He says that “to the uninitiated its analysis may seem the hair-splitting of details. We are indeed dealing with details, but such details as microscopic anatomy is also dealing with.” He who can decipher the meaning of the cell of psychology, the mechanism of one reaction, has found the key to all psychology.

That is why analysis is a most potent tool in methodology. Engels explains to the “all-inductionists” that “no induction whatever might ever explain the process of induction. This could only be accomplished by the analysis of this process.” He further gives mistakes of induction which are frequently encountered. Elsewhere he compares both methods and finds in thermodynamics an example which shows that the pretensions of induction to be the only or most fundamental form of scientific discovery are ill-founded.

The steam engine formed the convincing proof of the fact that one can use heat to accomplish mechanical movements. One hundred thousand steam engines would not prove this more convincingly than a single engine . . . Sadi Carnot was the first to study it seriously. But not through induction. He studied the steam engine, analysed it, found that the relevant process does not appear in it in a pure form but was concealed by all sorts of incidental processes, removed these inessentials which are indifferent for the essential process, and construed an ideal steam engine . . . which, to be sure, is as imaginary as, for example, a geometrical line or plane, but fulfils the same service as these mathematical abstractions: it represents the process in a pure, independent, and undistorted form [ibid.].

It would be possible to show how and when such an analysis is possible in the methods of investigation of this applied branch of methodology. But we can also generally say that analysis is the application of methodology to the knowledge of a fact, i.e., it is an evaluation of the method used and of the meaning of the obtained phenomena. In this sense it can be said that analysis is always inherent in investigation, otherwise induction would turn into registration.

How does this analysis differ from Chelpanov’s analysis? By four characteristics: (1) the analytical method is aimed at the knowledge of realities and strives for the same goal as induction. The phenomenological method does not at all presuppose the existence of the essence it strives to know. Its subject matter can be pure phantasy, deprived of any existence; (2) the analytical method studies facts and leads to knowledge which has the trustworthiness of a fact. The phenomenological method obtains apodictic truths which are absolutely trustworthy and universally valid; (3) the analytical method is a special case of empirical knowledge, i.e., factual knowledge, according to Hume. The phenomenological method is a priori, it is not a kind of experience or factual knowledge; (4) via the study of new special facts the analytical method, which relies on facts which have been studied and generalised before, ultimately leads to new relative and factual generalisations which have a boundary, a variable degree of applicability, limitations and even exceptions. The phenomenological method does not lead to knowledge of the general, but of the idea, the essence. The general is known through induction, the essence by intuition. It exists outside time and reality and is not related to any temporal or real thing.

We see that the difference is as big as a difference between two methods can be. One method – let us call it the analytical method – is the method of the real, natural sciences, the other – the phenomenological, a priori one – is the method of the mathematical sciences and of the pure science of the mind.

Why does Chelpanov call it the analytical method and assert that it is identical to the phenomenological one? Firstly, it is a plain mistake which the author himself tries to sort out several times. Thus, he points out that the analytical method is not identical to normal analysis in psychology. It yields knowledge of another kind than induction – we are reminded of the precise distinctions, all of them established by Chelpanov. Thus, there are two types of induction which have nothing in common but their name. This general term is confusing and we must distinguish its two meanings.

Further, it is clear that the analysis in the case of a gas, which the author adduces as a possible counterargument against the theory which says that the main feature of the “analytical” method is that it examines phenomena just once, is a natural scientific and not a phenomenological analysis. The author is simply mistaken when he sees a combination of analysis and induction here. It is analysis, but of another kind. Not one of the four points distinguishing both methods leaves any doubt about the fact that: (1) it is aimed at real facts, not at “ideal possibilities”; (2) it has only factual and not apodictic validity; (3) it is a posteriori; (4) it leads to generalisations which have boundaries and degrees, not to the contemplation of essences [Wesensschau]. In general, it results from experience, from induction and not from intuition.

That we are dealing with a mistake and a mixture of terms is absolutely clear from the absurd attempt to combine the phenomenological and the inductive method in one experiment. This is what Chelpanov does in the case of gases. It is as if we partly tried to prove Pythagoras’ theorem and partly completed it with the study of real triangles. It is absurd. But behind the mistake is some dimension: the psychoanalysts have taught us to be sensitive to and suspicious about mistakes. Chelpanov belongs to the harmonisers: he sees the dualism of psychology, but unlike Husserl he does not accept psychology’s complete separation from phenomenology. For him psychology is partly phenomenology. Within psychology there are phenomenological truths and they are the fundamental core of the science. But at the same time Chelpanov sympathises with the experimental psychology which Husserl slighted with contempt. Chelpanov wishes to combine what cannot be combined and his story about the gases is the only one where he combines the analytical (phenomenological) method with induction in physics in the study of real gases. And this mixture he conceals with the general term “analytical.”

The split of the dual analytical method into a phenomenological and an inductive-analytical one leads us to the ultimate points upon which the bifurcation of the two psychologies rests – their epistemological premises. I attach great importance to this distinction, see it as the crown and center of the whole analysis, and at the same time for me it is now as obvious as a simple scale. Phenomenology (descriptive psychology) proceeds from a radical distinction between physical nature and mental being. In nature we distinguish phenomena in being. “In other words, in the mental sphere there is no distinction between phenomenon [Erscheinung] and being [Sein], and while nature is existence [Dasein] which manifests itself in the phenomena,” this cannot be asserted about mental being (Husserl, 1910). Here phenomenon and being coincide. It is difficult to give a more precise formulation of psychological idealism. And this is the epistemological formula of psychological materialism: “The difference between thinking and being has not been destroyed in psychology. Even concerning thinking one must distinguish the thinking of thinking and the thinking as such” [Feuerbach]. The whole debate is in these two formulas.

We must be able to state the epistemological problem for the mind as well and to find the distinction between being and thinking, as materialism teaches us to do in the theory of knowledge of the external world. The acceptance of a radical difference between the mind and physical nature conceals the identification of phenomenon and being, mind and matter, within psychology, the solution of the antinomy by removing one part – matter – in psychological knowledge. This is Husserl’s idealism of the purest water. Feuerbach’s whole materialism is expressed in the distinction of phenomenon and being within psychology and in the acceptance of being as the real object of study.

I venture to prove for the whole council of philosophers – idealists as well as materialists – that the essence of the divergence of idealism and materialism in psychology lies precisely here, and that only Husserl’s and Feuerbach’s formulas give a consistent solution of the problem in the two possible variants and that the first is the formula of phenomenology and the second that of materialistic psychology. I venture, proceeding from this comparison, to cut the living tissue of psychology, cutting it as it were into two heterogeneous bodies which grew together by mistake. This is the only thing which corresponds with the objective order of things, and all debates, all disagreements, all confusion merely result from the absence of a clear and correct statement of the epistemological problem.

From this it follows that by only accepting from empirical psychology its formal acceptance of the mind, Frankfurt also accepts its whole epistemology and all its conclusions – he is forced to resort to phenomenology. It follows that by demanding a method for the study of the mind which corresponds to its qualitative nature, he is demanding a phenomenological method, although he does not realize it himself. His conception is the materialism of which Høffding [1908] is entirely justified in saying that it is “a miniature dualistic spiritualism.” Precisely “miniature,” i.e., with the attempt to reduce, quantitatively diminish the reality of the non-material mind, to leave 0.001 of influence for it. But the fundamental solution in no way depends on a quantitative statement of the question. It is one of two things: either god exists, or he does not; either the spirits of dead people manifest themselves, or they do not; either mental (spiritistic – for Watson) phenomena are non-material, or they are material. Answers which have the form “god exists, but he is very small,” or “the spirits of dead people do not manifest themselves, but tiny parts of them very rarely visit spiritists,” or “the mind is material, but distinct from all other matter,” are humorous. Lenin wrote of the “bogostroiteli” [”God-builders”] that they differ little from the “bogoiskateli” [”Godseekers”] [56]: what is important is to either accept or reject deviltry in general; to assume either a blue or a yellow devil does not make a big difference.

When one mixes up the epistemological problem with the ontological one by introducing into psychology not the whole argumentation but its final results, this leads to the distortion of both. In Russia the subjective is identified with the mental and later it is proved that the mental cannot be objective. Epistemological consciousness as part of the antinomy “subject-object” is confused with empirical, psychological consciousness and then it is asserted that consciousness cannot be material, that to assume this would be Machism. And as a result one ends up with neoplatonism, in the sense of infallible essences for which being and phenomenon coincide. They flee from idealism only to plunge into it headlong. They dread the identification of being with consciousness more than anything else and end up in psychology with their perfectly Husserlian identification. We must not mix up the relation between subject and object with the relation between mind and body, as Høffding [1908] splendidly explains. The distinction between mind [Geist] and matter is a distinction in the content of our knowledge. But the distinction between subject and object manifests itself independently from the content of our knowledge.

Both mind and body are for us objective, but whereas mental objects [geistigen Objekte] are by their nature related to the knowing subject, the body exists only as an object for us. The relation between subject and object is an epistemological problem [Erkenntnisproblem], the relation between mind and matter is an ontological problem [Daseinsproblem].

This is not the place to give both problems a precise demarcation and basis in materialistic psychology, but to indicate the possibility of two solutions, the boundary between idealism and materialism, the existence of a materialistic formula. For distinction, distinction to the very end, is psychology’s task today. After all, many “Marxists” are not able to indicate the difference between theirs and an idealistic theory of psychological knowledge, because it does not exist. Following Spinoza, we have compared our science to a mortally ill patient who looks for an unreliable medicine. Now we see that it is only the surgeon’s knife which can save the situation. A bloody operation is immanent. Many textbooks we will have to rend in twain, like the veil in the temple [58], many phrases will lose their head or legs, other theories will be slit in the belly. We are only interested in the border, the line of the rupture, the line which will be described by the future knife.

And we assert that this line will lie in between the formulas of Husserl and Feuerbach. The thing is that in Marxism the problem of epistemology with regard to psychology has not been stated at all and the task of distinguishing the two problems about which Høffding is talking did not arise. The idealists, on the other hand, elaborated this idea with great clarity. And we claim that the viewpoint of our “Marxists” is Machism in psychology: it is the identification of being and consciousness. It is one of two things: either the mind is directly given to us in introspection, and then we side with Husserl; or we must distinguish subject and object, being and thinking in it, and then we side with Feuerbach. But what does this imply? It implies that my joy and my introspectional comprehension of this joy are different things.

There is a citation from Feuerbach that is very popular in Russia: “what for me [or subjectively] is a [purely] mental, non-material, suprasensory act, is in itself [or objectively] a material, sensory act” [Feuerbach]. It is usually cited in confirmation of subjective psychology. But this speaks against it. One may wonder what we must study: this act as such, as it is, or as it appears to me? As with the analogous question about the objective existence of the world, the materialist does not hesitate and says: the objective act as such. The idealist will say: my perception. But then one and the same act will turn out to be different depending on whether I am drunk or sober, whether I am a child or an adult, whether it is today or yesterday, whether it regards me or you. What is more, it turns out that in introspection we cannot directly perceive thinking, comparison – these are unconscious acts and our introspectional comprehension of them is not a functional concept, i.e., it is not deduced from objective experience. What must we, what can we study: thinking as such or the thinking of thinking? There can be no doubt whatsoever about the answer to this question. But there is one complication which prevents us from reaching a clear answer. All philosophers who have attempted to divide psychology have stumbled upon this complication. Stumpf distinguished mental functions from phenomena and asked who, which science, will study the phenomena rejected by physics and psychology. He assumed that a special science would develop which is neither psychology nor physics. Another psychologist (Pfander, 1904) refused to accept sensations as the subject matter of psychology for the sole reason that physics refuses to accept them. What place is left for them? Husserl’s phenomenology is the answer to this question.

In Russia it is also asked: if you will study thinking as such and not the thinking of thinking; the act as such and not the act for me; the objective and not the subjective – who, then, will study the subjective itself, the subjective distortion of objects? In physics we try to eliminate the subjective factor from what we perceive as an object. In psychology, when we study perception it is again required to separate perception as such, as it is, from how it seems to me. Who will study what has been eliminated both times, this appearance?

But the problem of appearance is an apparent problem. After all, in science we want to learn about the real and not the apparent cause of appearance. This means that we must take the phenomena as they exist independently from me. The appearance itself is an illusion (in Titchener’s basic example: Muller-Lyer’s lines are physically equal, psychologically one of them is longer). This is the difference between the viewpoints of physics and psychology. It does not exist in reality, but results from two non-coincidences of two really existing processes. If I would know the physical nature of the two lines and the objective laws of the eye, as they are in themselves, I would get the explanation of the appearance, of the illusion as a result. The study of the subjective factor in the knowledge of this illusion is a subject of logic and the historical theory of knowledge: just like being, the subjective is the result of two processes which are objective in themselves. The mind is not always a subject. In introspection it is split into object and subject. The question is whether in introspection phenomenon and being coincide. One has only to apply the epistemological formula of materialism, given by Lenin (a similar one can be found in Plekhanov) for the psychological subject-object, in order to see what is the matter:

the only ‘property’ of matter connected with philosophical materialism is the property of being an objective reality, of existing outside of our consciousness ... Epistemologically the concept of matter means nothing other than objective reality, existing independently from human consciousness and reflected by it. [Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism]

Elsewhere Lenin says that this is, essentially, the principle of realism, but that he avoids this word, because it has been captured by inconsistent thinkers.

Thus, this formula seemingly contradicts our viewpoint: it cannot be true that consciousness exists outside our consciousness. But, as Plekhanov has correctly established, self-consciousness is the consciousness of consciousness. And consciousness can exist without self-consciousness: we become convinced of this by the unconscious and the relatively unconscious. I can see not knowing that I see. That is why Pavlov [1928] is right when he says that we can live according to subjective states, but that we cannot analyse them.

Not a single science is possible without separating direct experience from knowledge. It is amazing: only the psychologist-introspectionist thinks that experience and knowledge coincide. If the essence of things and the form of their appearance directly coincided, says Marx [1890], all science would be superfluous. If in psychology appearance and being were the same, then everybody would be a scientist-psychologist and science would be impossible. Only registration would be possible. But, obviously, it is one thing to live, to experience, and another to analyse, as Pavlov says.

A most interesting example of this we find in Titchener [1910]. This consistent adherent of introspection and parallelism arrives at the conclusion that mental phenomena can only be described, but not explained. He asserts that

If, however, we attempted to work out a merely descriptive psychology, we should find that there was no hope in it of a true science of the mind. A descriptive psychology would stand to scientific psychology very much ... as the view of the world which a boy gets from his cabinet of physical experiments stands to the trained physicist’s view ...there would be no unity or coherence in it ... In order to make psychology scientific we must not only describe, we must also explain mind. We must answer the question ‘why.’ But here is a difficulty. It is clear that we cannot regard one mental process as the cause of another mental process ... Nor can we, on the other hand, regard nervous processes as the cause of mental processes ... The one cannot be the cause of the other.

This is the real situation in which descriptive psychology finds itself. The author finds a way out in a purely verbal subterfuge: mental phenomena can only be explained in relation to the body. Titchener [ibid.] says that

The nervous system does not cause, but it does explain mind. It explains mind as the map of a country explains the fragmentary glimpses of hills and rivers and towns that we catch on our journey through it ... Reference to the body does not add one iota to the data of psychology ... It does furnish us with an explanatory principle for psychology.

If we refrain from this, only two ways to overcome the fragmentary nature of mental life remain: either the purely descriptive way, the rejection of explanation, or to assume the existence of the unconscious.

Both courses have been tried. But, if we take the first, we never arrive at a science of psychology; and if we take the second, we voluntarily leave the sphere of fact for the sphere of fiction. These are scientific alternatives [ibid.].

This is perfectly clear. But is a science possible with the explanatory principle which the author has selected? Is it possible to have a science about the fragmentary glimpses of hills, rivers, and towns, with which in Titchener’s example the mind is compared? And further: how, why does the map explain these views, how does the map of a country help to explain its parts? The map is a copy of the country, it explains insofar as the country is reflected upon it, i.e., similar things explain each other. A science based on such a principle is impossible. In reality, the author reduces everything to causal explanation, as for him both causal and parallelistic explanation are defined as the indication of “proximate circumstances or conditions under which the described phenomenon occurs” [ibid., p. 41]. But, after all, this way will not lead to science either. Good “proximate conditions” are the ice age in geology, the fission of the atom in physics, the formation of planets in astronomy, evolution in biology. After all, “proximate conditions” in physics are followed by other “proximate conditions” and the causal chain is infinite in principle, but in parallelistic explanations the matter is hopelessly limited to merely proximate causes. Not without reason the author [ibid.] confines himself to comparing his explanation with the explanation of dew in physics. It would be a nice physics which did not go farther than pointing out the proximate conditions and similar explanations. It would simply cease to exist as a science.

Thus, we see that for psychology as a field of knowledge there are two alternatives: either the way of science, in which case it must be able to explain, or the knowledge of fragmentary visions, in which case it is impossible as science. For the use of the geometrical analogy deludes us. A geometrical psychology is absolutely impossible, for it lacks the basic characteristic: being an ideal abstraction it nevertheless refers to real objects. In this respect we are first of all reminded of Spinoza’s attempt to investigate human vices and stupidities by means of the geometrical method and to examine human actions and drives exactly as if they were lines, surfaces, and bodies. This method is suitable for descriptive psychology and not for any other approach. For it takes from geometry only its verbal style and the outward appearance of irrefutability of its proofs, and all the rest – its core included – is based upon a non-scientific way of thinking.

Husserl bluntly states the difference between phenomenology and mathematics: mathematics is an exact science and phenomenology a descriptive one. Neither more nor less: phenomenology cannot be apodictic for lack of such a trifle as exactitude! Try and imagine inexact mathematics and you will get geometrical psychology.

In the end, the question can be reduced, as has already been said, to the differentiation of the ontological and the epistemological problem. In epistemology appearance exists, and to assert that it is being is false. In ontology appearance does not exist at all. Either mental phenomena exist, and then they are material and objective, or they do not exist, and then they do not exist and cannot be studied. No science can be confined to the subjective, to appearance, to phantoms, to what does not exist. What does not exist, does not exist at all and it is not half-non-existent, half-existent. This must be understood. We cannot say: in the world there exist real and unreal things – the unreal does not exist. The unreal must be explained as the non-coincidence, generally as the relation of two real things; the subjective as the corollary of two objective processes. The subjective is apparent and therefore it does not exist.

Feuerbach comments upon the distinction between the subjective and the objective [factor] in psychology: “In a similar way, for me my body belongs to the category of imponderabilia, it does not have weight, although in itself or for others it is a heavy body.”

From this it is clear what kind of reality he ascribed to the subjective. He openly says that “Psychology is full of godsends; only the conclusions are present in our consciousness and feeling, but not the premises, only the results, but not the processes of the organism”. But can there really be a science about results without premises?

Stern [1924] expressed this well when he said, following Fechner, that the mental and the physical are the concave and the convex. A single line can represent now this and now that. But in itself it is neither concave nor convex, but round, and it is precisely as such that we want to know it, independently from how it may appear.

Høffding compares it with the same content expressed in two languages which we do not manage to reduce to a common protolanguage. But we want to know the content and not the language in which it is expressed. In physics we have freed ourselves from language in order to study the content. We must do the same in psychology.

Let us compare consciousness, as is often done, with a mirror image. Let the object A be reflected in the mirror as a. Naturally, it would be false to say that a in itself is as real as A. It is real in another way. A table and its reflection in the mirror are not equally real, but real in a different way. The reflection as reflection, as an image of the table, as a second table in the mirror is not real, it is a phantom. But the reflection of the table as the refraction of light beams on the mirror surface – isn’t that a thing which is equally material and real as the table? Everything else would be a miracle. Then we might say: there exist things (a table) and their phantoms (the reflection). But only things exist – (the table) and the reflection of light upon the surface. The phantoms are just apparent relations between the things. That is why no science of mirror phantoms is possible. But this does not mean that we will never be able to explain the reflection, the phantom. When we know the thing and the laws of reflection of light, we can always explain, predict, elicit, and change the phantom. And this is what persons with mirrors do. They study not mirror reflections but the movement of light beams, and explain the reflection. A science about mirror phantoms is impossible, but the theory of light and the things which cast and reflect it fully explain these “phantoms.”

It is the same in psychology: the subjective itself, as a phantom, must be understood as a consequence, as a result, as a godsend of two objective processes. Like the enigma of the mirror, the enigma of the mind is not solved by studying phantoms, but by studying the two series of objective processes from the cooperation of which the phantoms as apparent reflections of one thing in the other arise. In itself the appearance does not exist.

Let us return to the mirror. To identify A and a, the table and its mirror reflection, would be idealism: a is non-material, it is only A which is material and its material nature is a synonym for its existence independent of a. But it would be exactly the same idealism to identify a with X – with the processes that take place in the mirror. It would be wrong to say: being and thinking do not coincide outside the mirror, in nature (there A is not a, there A is a thing and a a phantom); being and thinking, however, do coincide inside the mirror (here a is X, a is a phantom and X is also a phantom). We cannot say: the reflection of a table is a table. But neither can we say: the reflection of a table is the refraction of light beams and a is neither A nor X. Both A and X are real processes and a is their apparent, i.e., unreal result. The reflection does not exist, but both the table and the light exist. The reflection of a table is identical neither with the real processes of the light in the mirror nor with the table itself.

Not to mention the fact that otherwise we would have to accept the existence in the world of both things and phantoms. Let us remember that the mirror itself is, after all, part of the same nature as the thing outside the mirror, and subject to all of its laws. After all, a cornerstone of materialism is the proposition that consciousness and the brain are a product, a part of nature, which reflect the rest of nature. And, therefore, the objective existence of X and A independent of a is a dogma of materialistic psychology.

Here we can end our protracted argumentation. We see that the third way of Gestalt psychology and personalism was, essentially, both times one of the two ways already known. Now we see that the third way, the way of so-called “Marxist psychology,” is an attempt to combine both ways. This attempt leads to their renewed separation within one and the same scientific system: one who combines them is, like Munsterberg, following two different roads.

Like the two trees in the legend which were tied up in their tops and which tore apart the ancient knight, so any scientific system will be torn apart if it binds itself to two different trunks. Marxist psychology can only be a natural science. Frankfurt’s way leads to phenomenology. Admittedly, in one place he himself consciously denies that psychology can be a natural science (Frankfurt, 1926). But, firstly, he mixes up the natural sciences with the biological ones, which is not correct. Psychology can be a natural science without being a biological science. Secondly, he understands the concept “natural” in its proximate, factual meaning, as a reference to the sciences about organic and non-organic nature and not in its fundamental methodological sense.

Such a usage of this term, which had long since been accepted in Western science, has been introduced into the Russian literature by Ivanovsky (1923). He says that mathematics and applied mathematics must be strictly distinguished from the sciences which deal with things, with “real” objects and processes, with what “actually” exists, or is. That is why these sciences can be called real or natural (in the broad sense of this word). In Russia the term “natural sciences” is usually used in a more narrow sense as merely designating the disciplines which study non-organic and organic nature. It does not cover the social and conscious nature which in such a usage of the word frequently appears different from “nature” as something which is “unnatural,” or “supernatural,” if not “contra-natural.” I am convinced that the extension of the term “natural” to everything which really exists is entirely rational.

Whether psychology is possible as a science is, above all, a methodological problem. In no other science are there so many difficulties, insoluble controversies and combinations of incompatible things as in psychology. The subject matter of psychology is the most complicated of all things in the world and least accessible to investigation. Its methods must be full of special contrivances and precautions in order to yield what is expected of them.

All the time I am speaking about precisely this latter thing – the principle of a science about [what is] the real. In this sense Marx [1890] studies, in his own words, the process of the development of economic formations as a natural-historical process.

Not a single science represents such a diversity and plenitude of methodological problems, such tightly stretched knots, such insoluble contradictions, as ours. That is why we cannot take a single step without thousands of preparatory calculations and cautions.

Thus, it is acknowledged all the same that the crisis gravitates toward the creation of a methodology, that the struggle is for a general psychology. Anyone who attempts to skip this problem, to jump over methodology in order to build some special psychological science right away, will inevitably jump over his horse while trying to sit on it. This has happened with Gestalt theory and Stern. Starting from universal principles which are equally applicable in physics and psychology but which have not been made concrete in methodology, we cannot proceed to a particular psychological investigation. That is why these psychologists are accused of knowing just one predicate and thinking it equally applicable to the whole world. We cannot, as Stern does, study the psychological differences between people with a concept that covers both the solar system, a tree, and man. For this we need another scale, another measure. The whole problem of the general and the special science, on the one hand, and methodology and philosophy, on the other, is a problem of scale. We cannot measure human height in miles, for this we need a tape-measure. And while we have seen that the special sciences have a tendency to transcend their boundaries towards the struggle for a common measure, a larger scale, philosophy is going through the opposite tendency: in order to approximate science it must narrow, decrease the scale, make its theses more concrete.

Both tendencies – of philosophy and of the special science – lead equally to methodology, to the general science. But this idea of scale, the idea of a general science, is so far foreign to “Marxist psychology” and this is its weak spot. It attempts to find a direct measure for psychological elements – the reaction – in universal principles: the law of the transition of quantity into quality and “the forgetting of the nuances of the grey colour” according to Lehmann and the transition from thrift into stinginess; Hegel’s triad and Freud’s psychoanalysis. Here the absence of a measure, scale, an intermediate link between the two, makes itself clearly felt. That is why the dialectical method will fall with fatal inevitability into the same category as the experiment, the comparative method, and the method of tests and surveys. A feeling for hierarchy, the difference between a technical research method and a method by which to know “the nature of history and thinking,” is missing. The direct frontal collision of particular factual truths with universal principles; the attempt to decide the matter-of-fact debate about instinct between Vagner and Pavlov by references to quantity-quality; the step from dialectics to the survey; the criticism of irradiation from the epistemological viewpoint; the use of miles where a tape-measure is needed; the verdicts of Bekhterev and Pavlov from the height of Hegel; these attempts to swat a fly with a sledge-hammer, have led to the false idea of a third way.

Binswanger [1922] reminds us of Brentano’s words about the amazing art of logic which makes one step forward with a thousand steps forward in science as a result. This strength of logic they do not want to know in Russia. According to the apt expression, methodology is the linchpin through which philosophy guides science. The attempt to realize such a guidance without methodology, the direct application of force to the point of application without a linchpin – from Hegel to Meumann – makes science impossible.

I advance the thesis that the analysis of the crisis and the structure of psychology indisputably testifies to the fact that no philosophical system can take possession of psychology directly, without the help of methodology, i.e., without the creation of a general science. The only rightful application of Marxism to psychology would be to create a general psychology – its concepts are being formulated in direct dependence upon general dialectics, for it is the dialectics of psychology. Any application of Marxism to psychology via other paths or in other points outside this area, will inevitably lead to scholastic, verbal constructions, to the dissolution of dialectics into surveys and tests, to judgment about things according to their external, accidental, secondary features, to the complete loss of any objective criterion and the attempt to deny all historical tendencies of the development of psychology, to a terminological revolution, in sum to a gross distortion of both Marxism and psychology. This is Chelpanov’s way.

Engels’ formula – not to foist the dialectical principles on nature, but to find them in it – is changed into its opposite here. The principles of dialectics are introduced into psychology from outside. The way of Marxists should be different. The direct application of the theory of dialectical materialism to the problems of natural science and in particular to the group of biological sciences or psychology is impossible, just as it is impossible to apply it directly to history and sociology. In Russia it is thought that the problem of “psychology and Marxism” can be reduced to creating a psychology which is up to Marxism, but in reality it is far more complex. Like history, sociology is in need of the intermediate special theory of historical materialism which explains the concrete meaning, for the given group of phenomena, of the abstract laws of dialectical materialism. In exactly the same way we are in need of an as yet undeveloped but inevitable theory of biological materialism and psychological materialism as an intermediate science which explains the concrete application of the abstract theses of dialectical materialism to the given field of phenomena.

Dialectics covers nature, thinking, history – it is the most general, maximally universal science. The theory of the psychological materialism or dialectics of psychology is what I call general psychology.

In order to create such intermediate theories – methodologies, general sciences – we must reveal the essence of the given area of phenomena, the laws of their change, their qualitative and quantitative characteristics, their causality, we must create categories and concepts appropriate to it, in short, we must create our own Das Kapital. It suffices to imagine Marx operating with the general principles and categories of dialectics, like quantity-quality, the triad, the universal connection, the knot [of contradictions], leap etc. – without the abstract and historical categories of value, class, commodity, capital, interest, production forces, basis, superstructure etc. – to see the whole monstrous absurdity of the assumption that it is possible to create any Marxist science while by-passing by Das Kapital. Psychology is in need of its own Das Kapital – its own concepts of class, basis, value etc. – in which it might express, describe and study its object. And to discover a confirmation of the law of leaps in Lehmann’s statistical data of the forgetting of the nuances of the grey colour means not to change dialectics or psychology one jot. This idea of the need for an intermediate theory without which the various special facts cannot be examined in the light of Marxism has long since been realised, and it only remains for me to point out that the conclusions of our analysis of psychology match this idea.

Vishnevsky develops the same idea in his debate with Stepanov (it is clear to anyone that historical materialism is not dialectical materialism, but its application to history. Therefore, only the social sciences which have their general basis in the history of materialism can, strictly speaking, be called Marxist; other Marxist sciences do not yet exist). “Just as historical materialism is not identical with dialectical materialism, the latter is not identical with specifically natural scientific theory, which, incidentally, is still in the process of being born” (Vishnevsky, 1925). But Stepanov (1924) identifies the dialectical-materialist understanding of nature with the mechanistic one and finds that it is given and can already be found in the mechanistic conception of the natural sciences. As an example the author mentions the debate in psychology about the question of introspection.

Dialectical materialism is a most abstract science. The direct application of dialectical materialism to the biological sciences and psychology, as is common nowadays, does not go beyond the formal logical, scholastic, verbal subsumption of particular phenomena, whose internal sense and relation is unknown, under general, abstract, universal categories. At best this leads to an accumulation of examples and illustrations. But not more than that. Water – steam – ice and natural economy – feudalism – capitalism are one and the same, one and the same process from the viewpoint of dialectical materialism. But historical materialism would lose much qualitative wealth in such a generalisation!

Marx called his Das Kapital a critique of political economy. Such a critique of psychology one wants to skip today. “A textbook of psychology, explained from the viewpoint of dialectical materialism,” must sound essentially like “a textbook of mineralogy, explained from the viewpoint of formal logic.” After all, this goes without saying – to reason logically is not a property of the given textbook or mineralogy as a whole. And dialectics is not logic, it is broader. Or: “a textbook of sociology, from the viewpoint of dialectical materialism” instead of “historical.” We must develop a theory of psychological materialism. We cannot yet create textbooks of dialectical psychology.

But we would lose our main criterion in critical judgment as well. The way one now determines, as in the assay office, whether a given theory is in accord with Marxism, can be understood as a method of “logical superposition,” i.e., one checks whether the forms, the logical features coincide (monism, etc.). It should be known what can and must be looked for in Marxism. Man is not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath is made for man. We must find a theory which would help us to know the mind, but by no means the solution of the question of the mind, not a formula which would give the ultimate scientific truth. We cannot find it in the citations from Plekhanov for the simple reason that it is not there. Neither Marx, nor Engels, nor Plekhanov possessed such a truth. Hence the fragmentary nature, the brevity of many formulations, their rough character, their meaning which is strictly limited to the context. Such a formula can in principle not be given in advance, before the scientific study of the mind, but develops as the result of the scientific work of centuries. What can be searched for in the teachers of Marxism beforehand is not a solution of the question, not even a working hypothesis (as these are developed on the basis of the given science), but the method to develop it [the hypothesis]. I do not want to learn what constitutes the mind for free, by picking out a couple of citations, I want to learn from Marx’s whole method how to build a science, how to approach the investigation of the mind.

That is why Marxism is not only applied in the wrong place (in textbooks instead of a general psychology), but why one takes the wrong things from it. We do not need fortuitous utterances, but a method; not dialectical materialism, but historical materialism. Das Kapital must teach us many things – both because a genuine social psychology begins after Das Kapital and because psychology nowadays is a psychology before Das Kapital. Struminsky is fully right when he calls the very idea of a Marxist psychology as a synthesis of the thesis “empiricism” with the antithesis “reflexology” a scholastic construction. After a real path has been found, one may for clarity’s sake signal these three points, but to search for real paths by means of this schema would mean taking the road of speculative combination and dealing with the dialectics of ideas rather than the dialectics of facts or being. Psychology has no independent paths of development; we must find the real historical processes behind them, which condition them. He is only wrong when he asserts that to select the paths of psychology on the basis of the contemporary currents in a Marxist fashion is impossible in principle (Struminsky, 1926).

The idea he develops is right, but it only concerns the historical analysis of the development of science and not the methodological one. Because the methodologist takes no interest in what really will take place in the process of development of psychology tomorrow, he also ignores factors outside of psychology. But he is interested in the kind of disease psychology is suffering from, what it lacks in order to become a science, etc. After all, the external factors as well push psychology along the road of its development and can neither abolish the work of centuries nor make it skip a century. The logical structure of knowledge grows organically.

Struminsky is also right when he points out that the new psychology virtually came so far as to frankly accept the position of the older subjective psychology. But the trouble is not that the author fails to take account of the external, real factors of the development of the science he attempts to take account of; the trouble is that he does not take the methodological nature of the crisis into account. The course of development of each science has its own strict sequence. External factors can speed up or slow down this course, they may sidetrack it, and finally, they can determine the qualitative character of each stage, but to change the sequence of these stages is impossible. Using the external factors we can explain the idealistic or materialistic, religious or positive, individualistic or social, pessimistic or optimistic character of the stage, but no external factors can establish that a science which finds itself in the stage of gathering raw material can proceed straight to the creation of technical, applied disciplines, or that a science with well-developed theories and hypotheses, with well-developed technique and experimentation will start dealing with the gathering and description of primary material.

Thanks to the crisis, the division into two psychologies through the creation of a methodology has been put on the agenda. How it will turn out depends on external factors. Titchener and Watson in their American and socially different way, Koffka and Stern in a German and again socially different way, Bekhterev and Kornilov in their Russian and again different way – they all solve one problem. What this methodology will be and how fast it will be there we do not know, but that psychology does not move any further as long as the methodology has not been created, that the methodology will be the first step forward, is beyond doubt.

The fundamental stones have in principle been laid correctly. The general way, which will take decades, has also been indicated correctly. The goal is also correct, as is the general plan. Even the practical orientation in contemporary currents is correct, though incomplete. But the next path, the next steps, the plan of action, suffer from deficits: they lack an analysis of the crisis and a correct orientation on methodology. The works of Kornilov are the beginning of this methodology, and anyone who wants to develop the idea of psychology and Marxism further will be forced to repeat him and to continue his road. As a road this idea is unequalled in strength in European psychology. If it does not lose itself in criticism and polemics, if it does not turn into a paper war [war with pamphlets] but rises to a methodology, if it does not search for ready-made answers, and if it understands the tasks of contemporary psychology, then it will lead to the creation of a theory of psychological materialism.


Crisis in Psychology | Chapter 14